In a swift reversal, staff at the NWT’s legislature on Thursday backed down after initially barring Cabin Radio from attending a news conference scheduled by Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Steve Norn, at his request.
Norn is expected to speak a day after a report from a sole adjudicator concluded he had broken the NWT’s self-isolation rules in April and had misled the public about doing so. Justice Ronald Barclay recommended that Norn’s seat be declared vacant.
For that to happen, a majority of MLAs must vote to support that action in the legislature later this month or early next.
Cabin Radio first reported in April that Norn said he had self-isolated appropriately. “I followed all the rules, I was up front with everybody,” he said at the time. However, it was later reported that Norn had in fact broken self-isolation, which he subsequently admitted to the CBC.
Norn has declined to speak to Cabin Radio for more than half a year. During the public inquiry into his conduct, he called a Cabin Radio reporter a “liar” as they were attempting to provide testimony.
In June, Norn’s legal team filed a complaint regarding some comments made by people regarding the MLA on Cabin Radio’s Facebook page. Requests from Cabin Radio to be made aware of the specific comments in question, which Norn’s team alleged were racist and defamatory and should have been deleted, were not answered.
NWT legislature staff often help regular MLAs, who are not part of cabinet, to issue news releases or hold press conferences.
The legislature on Thursday issued an advisory to reporters stating that Norn would hold a virtual press conference in response to the adjudicator’s findings at 4pm.
When a Cabin Radio reporter asked for the login details for that virtual conference, legislature communications manager Nicole Bonnell responded by email: “Mr Norn has advised that he does not want Cabin Radio to attend today’s press conference.
“Please reach out to him directly if you would like to request a comment.”
A little over half an hour before the 4pm news conference was set to start, however – and following a complaint filed by Cabin Radio – the legislature had a change of heart.
Reporters from Cabin Radio will now be provided with the link to attend.
No further comment was made by the legislature.